japonisme: war, part 2

25 May 2008

war, part 2

This is a letter written by Dean Memmen in 1918 from the front lines in France during World War I. The letter was written to his friend George Halfmann of Minonk. The letter was given to us by George Halfmann, Jr. Mr. Mennen died from wounds in action on October 4, 1919, at the age of 23 years.

Dear Fatty;

Well how is everything by this time? I suppose Illinois's club have started to give dances again. I suppose they will be some what tame affairs with so many of the fellows gone. Have you heard how the boys like the service? I suppose they think they are having a fine time. Did you win any money on the World Series? I won five francs and could have gotten more money up but lacked confidence in Sox.

The climate here is about same as home but it rains more here. It is a pretty country but of all scenery I have seen I will take that around the big red bridge west of town for mine. We have a fair camp here and the bunk house are all O.K. except roofs which they are fixing. A couple of nights I had to spread my poncho over me to keep from getting a shower bath, but things have improved since that. We have bunks something like railroad men have in cabooses only wider. Two men sleep in each.

I went up town on liberty the other night with a Chicago kid. We had a h-- of a time on 67 cents. I am going again tonite if I get paid. With money fellows owe me, I have 380 frances coming so don't expect to go broke again. I had two glasses of wine the other evening at 8 cents a glass. I don't think much of it. We also went to a licensed red light house (both being my first experiences) but I wouldn't have touched one of the things they call women for a years pay. Now my curiosity is satisfied. I am off such places for life. I will be a regular angel by the time I get home.

There are two Y.M.C.A. at this camp. I heard a fine sermon at one last Sunday. That was first sermon I had heard since some time in July. They sell most every thing in way of eats that we want for lunches except bread. One of the fellows said he never thought that he would be doing God's work by selling star tobacco on Sunday afternoon until now.

Suppose you are a bachelor again by this time as Peggy ought to be back to Oberlin by this time.

Write and let me know how things are going at home.

Your old Pal,
Dean Memmen 1

i can't help but to compare this war to today's occupation, and how we see the soldiers. they are (mostly young) people now as they are in all wars. we are not given images like these. we are hiring out their jobs and marginalizing their humanity.

this is memorial day. in this country it's supposed to be a day of gratitude and recognition to soldiers and their families. what will we have in the future? mercenary day? blackhawk day? i don't know. i just know i'll be here praying for a return to sanity, and the knowledge that on a day of remembrance it's humans who will be remembered.

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Blogger PIGNOUF said...

I like your blog !
Thank you Lotusgreen.

26 May, 2008 10:02  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

thank you so much, pignouf-- i like the colors of the posters you choose for yours.

26 May, 2008 19:05  

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